Review: Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“In 1970s Baltimore, fourteen-year-old Mary Jane loves cooking with her mother, singing in her church choir, and enjoying her family’s subscription to the Broadway Show Tunes of the Month record club. Shy, quiet, and bookish, she’s glad when she lands a summer job as a nanny for the daughter of a local doctor. A respectable job, Mary Jane’s mother says. In a respectable house.

The house may look respectable on the outside, but inside it’s a literal and figurative mess: clutter on every surface, IMPEACHMENT: Now More Than Ever bumper stickers on the doors, cereal and takeout for dinner. And even more troublesome (were Mary Jane’s mother to know, which she does not): The doctor is a psychiatrist who has cleared his summer for one important job—helping a famous rock star dry out. A week after Mary Jane starts, the rock star and his movie star wife move in.

Over the course of the summer, Mary Jane introduces her new household to crisply ironed clothes and a family dinner schedule, and has a front-row seat to a liberal world of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll (not to mention group therapy). Caught between the lifestyle she’s always known and the future she’s only just realized is possible, Mary Jane will arrive at September with a new idea about what she wants out of life, and what kind of person she’s going to be.”

REVIEW:

I discovered this book when doing research for a blog post. This book ended up being the perfect summer read, and I’m so glad I picked it up.

Fourteen-year-old Mary Jane will be spending her summer as a nanny in what turns out to be a rather eccentric household. Growing up in a strict household, there are certain rules she must abide by. When entering the Cones’ household, it is like entering a different world. Mary Jane’s world is opened up by these experiences and soon seems to contemplate the way she has been raised.

Blau manages to completely capture the voice of a 14-year old girl, and Mary Jane is so incredibly relatable. The author also manages to capture the world of the 1970s perfectly, where the world was drastically changing and a new normal was being established. The author also manages to perfectly convey that feeling of being on the cusp of adulthood. Being 14 you are starting to think a bit more independently and learning and growing as a person. This book is incredibly hopeful while also discussing some heavy topics.

Mary Jane definitely feels like the ultimate summer read or a perfect beach read. I genuinely couldn’t put this book down once I picked it and it just flies by. It has great storytelling and an incredible cast of characters. It does have a very open ending allowing the reader to really decide what could happen going forward for Mary Jane.

I definitely recommend checking out Mary Jane. If you are looking for the perfect summer read or just a new fresh book, this one doesn’t disappoint.

RATING: 4.5/5

Book Recommendations: Music Lovers Edition

If you are on Bookstagram or Booktok, I’m sure you’ve seen the novel, Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid recommended time and time again. It’s an amazing, quick read and I definitely recommend it, but there are even more novels out there in the same style. So if you loved Daisy Jones & The Six or are a music lover in the general you definitely need to check out these books.

The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton


The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton is a novel about the rise of an iconic interracial rock duo in the 1970s. As a tie in with their reunion tour, both Opal and Nev have agreed to a tell-all book. As these artists tell their side of the story, nasty allegations are revealed that could threaten the whole reunion.

Told in the same oral history/interview style as Daisy Jones & The Six, Walton manages to weave real life events with her fictional events making for an incredibly believable story. Because it is told in an oral history style I found it to be a super quick read. It reflects the 70s and today incredibly well, showing everything from the good, the bad, and the ugly. Walton never shies away from tough topics and handles them with care. There is revelation about halfway through the book that shocked me, and left my mouth gaping open.

The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes by Elissa R. Sloan

The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes tells the story of Cassidy Holmes aka “Sassy Gloss” of the fictional pop group Gloss. They were the hottest pop group in the early 2000’s, until they fell apart. Now Cassidy Holmes is dead, suicide. The media and her former bandmates are reeling from this news.

The story jumps back and forth in time. All the past chapters are from Cassidy’s point of view, while the present chapters are told from the other band members. This book tackles tough topics, mental health, eating disorders, and sexual assault. Essentially, anything that a young female pop singer might have gone through in the early 2000s. It isn’t an easy read by any means because of the topics discussed, but they are handled with care. As someone who grew up listening to early 2000s pop, this was such an interesting read.

#FreeBritney

Mary Jane: A Novel by Jessica Anya Blau

“Almost Famous meets Daisy Jones & The Six in this funny, wise, and tender novel about a fourteen-year-old girl’s coming of age in 1970s Baltimore, caught between her straight-laced family and the progressive family she nannies for–who happen to be secretly hiding a famous rock star and his movie star wife for the summer.”

I just finished this and it is the perfect summer read. The author manages to perfectly capture the voice of a 14 year-old and Mary Jane is incredibly relatable. This book is about a young girl finding her voice and branching out for the first time in her life. It definitely gives off Almost Famous and Daisy Jones & The Six vibes. Once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down.

These are just some of my recommendations, and let me know if you decide to check them out! Also let me know if you have any recommendations to add to this list.